Analysis of the Field

Anyone who follows my site knows that I absolutely love statistics. I'm one of those 'numbers never lie' kind of people. The field of 33 has been locked for the 99th Indianapolis 500, and with it comes a lot of statistical and observational points in which we can analyze the field: from grid positions and nationalitiy, to former winners / pole sitters, and average finish and positions gained. Here's a full rundown of the field and what past performances from the drivers as well as the previous 98 races tells us about race day on Sunday. Up first, the grid for the 99th Indianapolis 500:

Grid (Position, car number, driver, four lap average speed, engine, team):

Row 1
1) #9 Scott Dixon, 226.760, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
2) #1 Will Power, 226.350, Chevrolet, Team Penske
3) #22 Simon Pagenaud, 226.145, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Row 2
4) #10 Tony Kanaan, 225.503, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
5) #3 Helio Castroneves, 225.502, Chevrolet, Team Penske
6) #25 Justin Wilson, 225.279, Honda, Andretti Autosport

Row 3
7) #11 Sebastien Bourdais, 225.193, Chevrolet, KV Racing
8) #27 Marco Andretti, 225.189, Honda, Andretti Autosport
9) #21 Josef Newgarden, 225.187, Chevrolet, CFH Racing

Row 4
10) #6 JR Hildebrand, 225.099, Chevrolet, CFH Racing
11) #26 Carlos Munoz, 225.042, Honda, Andretti Autosport
12) #20T Ed Carpenter, 224.883, Chevrolet, CFH Racing

Row 5
13) #32 Oriol Servia, 224.777, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
14) #83 Charlie Kimball, 224.743, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
15) #2 Juan Pablo Montoya, 224.657, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Row 6
16) #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, 224.573, Honda, Andretti Autosport
17) #15 Graham Rahal, 224.290, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18) #18 Carlos Huertas, 224.233, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing

Row 7
19) #29 Simona de Silvestro, 223.838, Honda, Andretti Autosport
20) #7 James Jakes, 223.790, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
21) #48 Alex Tagliani, 223.722, Honda, AJ Foyt Enterprises

Row 8
22) #8 Sage Karam, 223.595, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
23) #43 Conor Daly, 223.482, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
24) #24 Townsend Bell, 223.447, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing

Row 9
25) #14 Takuma Sato, 223.226, Honda, AJ Foyt Enterprises
26) #63 Pippa Mann, 223.104, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing
27) #98 Gabby Chaves, 222.916, Honda, Bryan Herta Autosport

Row 10
28) #17 Sebastian Saavedra, 222.898, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
29) #41 Jack Hawksworth, 223.738, Honda, AJ Foyt Enterprises
30) #4 Stefano Coletti, 222.001, Chevrolet, KV Racing

Row 11
31) #88 Bryan Clauson, 221.358, Chevrolet, Jonathan Byrd's Racing
32) #19 James Davison, 223.747, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing*
33) #5 Ryan Briscoe, 223.519, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports**

*Tristan Vautier qualified 21st in place of the absent James Davison
**James Hinchcliffe qualified the car 23rd but is unable to race due to injury
(Both of the above changes result in a drop to the rear of the field)

Nations Represented (number represents how many drivers from that nation)

United States of America - 11
Colombia - 5
England - 4
Australia - 3
Brazil - 2
France - 2
Canada - 1
Japan - 1
Monaco - 1
New Zealand - 1
Spain - 1
Switzerland - 1

Former Winners of the Indianapolis 500

Helio Castroneves (2001, '02, and '09)
Juan Pablo Montoya (2000)
Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014)
Scott Dixon (2008)
Tony Kanaan (2013)

Former Polesitters of the Indianapolis 500

Alex Tagliani (2011)
Ed Carpenter (2012 and '13)
Helio Castroneves (2003, '07, '09, and '10)
Ryan Briscoe (2012)
Scott Dixon (2008)
Tony Kanaan (2005)

Average Finishing Position of Participants at Indianapolis 500 (career)

Carlos Munoz 3.0
Juan Pablo Montoya 3.0
Helio Castroneves 7.1
Sage Karam 9.0
Scott Dixon 9.9
Marco Andretti 11.3
Oriol Servia 11.5
Simon Pagenaud 12.0
Tony Kanaan 12.2
Will Power 13.6
JR Hildebrand 14.8
Charlie Kimball 15.3
Justin Wilson 15.3
Ed Carpenter 15.4
Ryan Briscoe 15.4
Ryan Hunter-Reay 15.7
James Davison 16.0
Alex Tagliani 16.3
Carlos Huertas 17.0
Sebastien Bourdais 17.0
Townsend Bell 17.4
James Jakes 17.5
Jack Hawksworth 20.0
Takuma Sato 20.4
Graham Rahal 21.4
Conor Daly 22.0
Simona de Silvestro 23.5
Sebastian Saavedra 24.0
Pippa Mann 24.7
Josef Newgarden 27.7
Bryan Clauson 30.0
Gabby Chaves
Stefano Coletti

Most Positions Gained by Participants at Indianapolis 500 (career)

Oriol Servia 42
Charlie Kimball 26
Sage Karam 22
Ryan Hunter-Reay 21
Sebastian Saavedra 19
Simon Pagenaud 13
James Davison 12
Pippa Mann 10
Conor Daly 9
Simona de Silvestro 8
Juan Pablo Montoya 6
Carlos Huertas 4
Sebastien Bourdais 4
Carlos Munoz 3
Justin Wilson 3
James Jakes 2
Bryan Clauson 1
Takuma Sato -1
Jack Hawksworth -7
Townsend Bell -7
JR Hildebrand -10
Alex Tagliani -13
Marco Andretti -13
Helio Castroneves -18
Ryan Briscoe -19
Scott Dixon -25
Ed Carpenter -28
Tony Kanaan -36
Graham Rahal -38
Will Power -42
Josef Newgarden -43
Gabby Chaves
Stefano Coletti

'Based On Where They Start'

Returning for another year is the 'Based On Where They Start.' Last year, I tweeted out the probability of each driver winning from their grid position based on past Indianapolis 500s. I am again applying the previous 98 Indianapolis 500s to determine what chances each driver has of winning based on where they qualified. Here are the stats:

20 drivers have won from pole. Scott Dixon thus has a 20.4% chance of winning.

11 drivers have won from 2nd and 3rd place. Will Power and Simon Pagenaud share a 11.2% chance of winning.

7 drivers have won from 5th place. Helio Castroneves has a 7.1% chance of winning.

6 drivers have won from 4th place. Tony Kanaan has a 6.1% chance of winning.

5 drivers have won from the 6th and 7th place on the grid. Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais have a 5.1% chance of winning.

4 drivers have won from the luckiest position on the grid, P13. That gives Oriol Servia a 4.1% chance of winning.

3 drivers have won from 15th and 20th positions. Both Juan Pablo Montoya and James Jakes share a 3.1 % chance of winning.

2 drivers have won from positions 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 19th,, 22nd, and 28th each. This gives Marco Andretti, JR Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Simona de Silvestro, Sage Karam, and Sebastian Saavedra a 2% chance of winning each.

1 driver has from 9th, 14th, 21st, 25th, and 27th, meaning Josef Newgarden, Charlie Kimball, Alex Tagliani, Takuma Sato, and Gabby Chaves all have a 1% chance of winning.

0 drivers haves won from 18th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd and equal share of 0% chance at winning. These drivers are Carlos Huertas, Conor Daly, Townsend Bell, Pippa Mann, Jack Hawksworth, Stefano Coletti, Bryan Clauson, James Davison, and Ryan Briscoe.

Personal Predictions

There are certain drivers in the field that are tough to bet against. Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and Scott Dixon. These guys are always considered to be winners. If I had to pick one, I would pick Marco.

Some drivers to watch make their way up through the field are Sage Karam, Conor Daly, and Gabby Chaves. I'd keep an eye on Chaves, as he has had a good car in traffic this month.

I'm not expecting much from AJ Foyt's team, and three high qualifiers for CFH Racing could either end really well or a disaster for the team. Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter have never had much luck in the race, and we know about JR Hildebrand;s misfortunes in the race.

It's such a talented field, who knows what to expect!

Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey